Dhaka, Bangladesh — PPD marked the conclusion of the project titled ‘Raising Voice from the South for Integration of a Human Rights Based Approach (HRBA) to Maternal Health’ with a national seminar held at Dhaka, Bangladesh on 30 January 2013. PPD in collaboration with Disabled Rehabilitation and Research Association (DRRA) organized the seminar where Prof Dr. Golam Rahman, President, DRRA and former Vice Chancellor, Khulna University chaired the occasion. Health and Family Welfare Minister H.E. AFM Ruhal Haque was present as the chief guest along with Prof Dr Khandaker Mohammad Shefyetullah, Director General, Department of Health Service; AKM Amir Hossain, Director General, Family Planning Department; Dr Joe Tomas, Executive Director of PPD and Dr Lorna Tumwebaze, Deputy Executive Director of PPD.
After a series of stakeholder meetings and other media campaigns consisting of poster distribution, FM radio broadcasting and TV talk show in order to raise awareness on rights of mother to claim safe motherhood services; the project proved to be highly successful in Bangladesh. On the occasion the Honorable Minister said ‘Bangladesh achieved remarkable success in maternity health, maternal mortality rate reduction, child health and other areas. The country has progressed in population control too’.
As per statistics presented in the seminar, Family Planning policies initiated by the Government in the 1970s and partnership with key stakeholders and Civil Society helped to reduce the TFR from 6.3 in the early 1970s to about 2.3 in 2011. The Contraceptive Prevalence Rate for married women has increased from 8 % in 1975 to 61.2 % in 2011, over sevenfold increase. The resultant population growth rate has declined from 2.48% in 1974 to 1.34 % in 2011. Furthermore, Family planning indicators have also done well in reducing maternal mortality rate from 322 per hundred thousand live births in 2001 to 194 in 2012 which means a 40% decline in nine years. Apart from these, the primary target of achieving MDG5 which includes reducing maternal mortality rate to 143 by 2015 is also a top priority.
Despite all the success stories and achievements some issues yet seems to persist in Bangladesh. Early marriage and teen pregnancy are very common in this country. Due to lack of security and proper education, two in three women get married before the legal age of marriage (which is 18 years) and one in three start childbearing before age 20. High adolescent fertility remains a major social and health concern in Bangladesh. The Executive Director of PPD, Dr. Joe Thomas addressed to such crisis and emphasized on higher budget allocation from the government to raise awareness on the rights of mothers for safe motherhood and maternal health services. He further added, ‘We at PPD, is planning to document the lessons learned from implementing this project in Bangladesh to proceed to next steps of implementation and to share with our other member countries.’